Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

Help support this site! Consider clicking an ad from time to time. Thanks!

« Go Back to Previous Page «  

Tagged: Rodney Crowell

Voila, An American Dream

Written and first recorded by Rodney Crowell (1978).
Hit version by The Dirt Band (US #13/C&W #58/CAN #3/AUS #35 1980).

From the wiki: “‘An American Dream’ is a song written by Rodney Crowell. He recorded it under the title ‘Voilá, An American Dream’ on his 1978 album Ain’t Living Long Like This with a backing vocal by Emmylou Harris, and released it as the B-side to that album’s single ‘(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I’.

“‘An American Dream’ was later recorded by The Dirt Band (née Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). It was released in November 1979 as the only single and title track from the album An American Dream. The Dirt Band’s version features a backing vocal from Linda Ronstadt. The single charted Top-20 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking the group’s last appearance at that level on the Billboard chart.”


First recorded by Rodney Crowell (1980).
Also recorded by Guy Clark, songwriter (1981), George Strait (1982), The Marshall Tucker Band (1982).
Hit version by Ricky Skaggs (C&W #1/CAN #1 1982).

From the wiki: “‘Heartbroke’ was written by Guy Clark, and originally recorded by Rodney Crowell on his 1980 album But What Will the Neighbors Think. Clark, the following year, included his version of ‘Heartbroke’ on the album, The South Coast of Texas. Guests on that album included Crowell (as both performer and producer) , Ricky Skaggs, Rosanne Cash, and Vince Gill as well as numerous other well-known session players.

“The following year, ‘Heartbroke’ would be covered solo by Skaggs and released by him in July 1982 as the first single from his album Highways & Heartaches, becoming Skaggs’ third #1 on the US Country chart.

Ashes by Now

Written and first recorded by Rodney Crowell (US #37 1981).
Hit version by Lee Ann Womack (US #45/C&W #4 2000).

From the wiki: “”Ashes by Now” is a song written and recorded in 1981 by American country artist Rodney Crowell. Before its release as a single, it served as the B-side to his 1978 single ‘Elvira‘. A cover version was recorded by fellow country artist Lee Ann Womack. Womack’s rendition of the song was released in October 2000 as the second single from her third studio album, I Hope You Dance.


Written and first recorded by Dallas Frazier (US #72/CAN #27 1966).
Also recorded by Kenny Roger & The First Edition (1970), Rodney Crowell (C&W #95 1978).
Other hit version by The Oak Ridge Boys (US #5/MOR #8/C&W #1/CAN #26/AUS #87/NZ #13 1981).

From the wiki: “Songwriter Dallas Frazier penned ‘Elvira’ in 1966 and included it as the title track of the album he released that year. A number of recording artists, most notably Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, also recorded the song through the years, to varying degrees of success. Frazier’s own version peaked at #72 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966.

“In 1978, alternative country recording artist Rodney Crowell recorded a cover of ‘Elvira’ (with ‘Ashes by Now’ on the B-side) that became a minor C&W hit. However, Crowell’s version did have its fans — most notably The Oak Ridge Boys. In 1980, when the group began planning for their upcoming album, Fancy Free, the Oaks decided to cover the song.

Shame on the Moon

Written and first recorded by Rodney Crowell (1981).
Also recorded by Tanya Tucker (1982).
Hit version by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band (US #2/C&W #15/CAN #8 1982).

From the wiki: “‘Shame on the Moon’ is the title of a song written by Rodney Crowell (‘Voila, An American Dream‘, ‘Ashes By Now‘), and covered by Tanya Tucker on her album Changes and, soon after, by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. It was released in December 1982 as the lead single from Seger’s album The Distance. (Glenn Frey joins Seger on background harmony vocals on the song.) The song spent four weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached #15 on the Hot Country Singles chart in early 1983, marking Seger’s only Top 40 entry on the Country chart.”

Queen of Hearts

First recorded by Dave Edmunds (UK #11 1979).
Also recorded by Rodney Crowell (1980).
Other hit version by Juice Newton (US #2/C&W #14/CAN #8/AUS #8/NZ #7/DEN #6/SA #2 1981).

‘Queen of Hearts’ is the country-pop ballad crafted by Hank DeVito, the renowned pedal steel guitarist within Emmylou Harris’ backing ensemble, The Hot Band. This song made its initial appearance through Dave Edmunds, who featured it on his 1979 album Repeat When Necessary. When released as a single, it quickly ascended to #11 on the UK charts in that same year.

In 1980, ‘Queen of Hearts’ then found a notable home on Rodney Crowell’s album, But What Will the Neighbors Think. This version was particularly significant as the composer himself, DeVito, contributed his guitar skills to the recording. However, the song reached its zenith of recognition when the talented country-rock songstress Juice Newton included it on her 1981 album Juice.

Newton reminisced about the song’s journey, saying, ‘I performed [‘Queen of Hearts’] live for about a year…Then I presented it to [producer] Richard Landis when we began working on the Juice album. At that point, he wasn’t entirely convinced it would become a breakout hit, but I told him I thought it was an incredibly cool song… so we decided to record it.’

Juice Newton’s rendition of the track catapulted her to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to international stardom, achieving Top-10 status in countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and Switzerland. It also garnered respectable success in Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands. Newton’s earnest interpretation of ‘Queen of Hearts’ earned her a Grammy nomination in 1982 in the ‘Best Female Vocalist, Country and Western’ category, solidifying her place in the country music spotlight.

Rodney Crowell, “Queen of Hearts” (1980):

Juice Newton, “Queen of Hearts” (1981):